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What is a Childhood Language Disorder?

Children who have a speech language disorder have trouble understanding and/or communicating language. Speech is the sound produced and language is a measure of comprehension. There are 2 kinds of language disorders – receptive and expressive. Children often have both at the same time. A child with receptive language disorder has trouble understanding words they hear and read. A child with an expressive language disorder means they have difficulty getting their meaning across through speech, writing or even gestures. Some children have a language disorder even though they produce sounds and have clear speech.

1 in 10 children have a diagnosed speech language disorder. Evidence implies that undiagnosed, untreated childhood language disorders put children at a higher risk of social, emotional, behavioral and cognitive problems in adulthood. You can help provide free speech-language therapy to a child today by donating. 

Let’s talk about Numbers:


Language Programs


Hours of Assessment & Treatment


 Average Monthly Caseload of Children


Parents should talk to their children from the earliest months of life. Babies especially enjoy listening to mothers and fathers who talk to them during activities such as bathing and feeding.


Take time to read to your children each day. Even infants enjoy story time with high-interest picture books. Choose age-appropriate books and other reading materials readily available from your public library.


Listen to your children and encourage them to engage in conversations with family members and other children. Children will make mistakes in speech and language as they develop new skills; parents should avoid discouraging children’s development by overcorrecting these mistakes.


More ways to listen...


your child’s speech and language development relative to age-specific language development expectations. Pediatricians/primary care physicians, public health clinics, and public libraries have child development materials including developmental expectations for speech and language.

Take an interest...

in your child’s school activities and participate in homework assignments. Parents should encourage independent problem solving and praise children for completing difficult assignments.

Parents are...

a child’s most important role model. Parents can demonstrate that listening, reading, writing, and learning are enjoyable, lifelong activities. Parents should set aside quiet time for independent reading for themselves and their school age children each day.

Parents can...

request a hearing test and speech and language evaluation if they are concerned about their child’s development. Free screenings are available through the various RiteCare Childhood Language Centers in California. You may contact the California Scottish Rite Foundation.

Girl learnng with a peech-Language Therapist

Two years ago, our son could not read. He could not speak in sentences combining phrases or utilizing words containing more than one syllable. Of course, he suffered greatly, and had no confidence, and no joy. Socially he was withdrawn and depressed. He had continuing series of nervous “tics.” Today our beautiful son is reading at grade level and talking with enthusiasm and the flow of a child who is experiencing life!

-Letter from a grateful parent.

Parents know their children best. If you are concerned about your child’s communication in any way, give a RiteCare Childhood Language Center a call. We are here to answer your questions and there is no charge.



  • Knows a few parts of the body and can point to them when asked.
  • Follows simple commands (“Roll the ball”) and understands simple questions (“Where’s your shoe?”)

  • Listens to simple stories, songs, and rhymes.

  • Points to pictures in a book when named.

  • Acquires new words every month.

  • Combines two words (“more juice”).

  • Uses some one- or two-word questions (“Where’s daddy?”).



  • Understands differences in meaning (“go – stop”, “up – down”).

  • Follows two step commands (“Get your cup and put it on the table”).

  • Has a word for almost everything.

  • Uses two- or three-word sentences (“Mommy go bye-bye”).

  • Names objects to ask for them or to direct attention to them.

  • Speech is understood by familiar listeners most of the time.

  • Produces the speech sounds “h,” “w,” “m,” “n,” “p,” “b,” “t,” and “d”.



  • Understands simple “wh” questions (who, what, where, why).

  • Hears you when you call from another room.

  • Speaks easily without repeating syllables or words.

  • Uses sentences with four or more words.

  • Talks about activities outside of the home.

  • Speech is understood most of the time by people outside of the family.

  • Produces the speech sounds “f,” “k,” “g,” “l,” and “s”.



  • Pays attention to a short story and answers simple questions about it.

  • Hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school.

  • Uses sentences that give many details.

  • Tells stories that stay on topic.

  • Uses adult-like grammar.

  • Communicates easily with other children and adults.

  • Produces nearly all speech sounds, except “r” and “th”.


Speech & Language Milestones*

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association publishes guidelines for speech and language skills that the average child can achieve by the time they reach a certain age. Every child is different. However, you can use these guidelines to determine if your child might benefit from a speech-language evaluation.

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